I took the dogs herding today at Lumen’s breeder’s place, who also does herding lessons.

After last time Loki herded and got very, very, VERY stuck, I was curious to see how he would go. It’s so weird, the first and second times he herded, he was BRILLIANT. Kept great distance from the sheep, was so easy and natural… then we did this ‘competition’ and he was doing fine until we turned around and then he couldn’t do clockwise circles, he just got stuck on their heads… so I took him in today and almost instantly the pressure was too much. He ran at them and got all frenzied and then just wanted to stare at their heads. When I tried to wait him out, he went to the corner, sat down and stressed… so I tried to encourage him, moved around, talked to him, called him to me… lots of things… and a couple of times he got behind me, found balance, made them walk up, and then he would stress out and go back to their heads – his safe place. If he can make them stop, he’s happy. It didn’t help that Lu’s breeder was outside the paddock telling off another dog, so of course Loki was worried about that, too…. But… well, maybe herding isn’t for him.

And then I got Lu. Lu, my dog who cares less even when the most exciting dogs are running agility… who doesn’t show much interest in dinner, and none in car rides… who had been yipping and trying to climb the fence to get to go play with the sheep… DRAGS me down to the paddock, comes in with me, sits at my side and stays, solid, ready. I send her around, she’s a little crazy but not bad… and then she’s doing it, beautifully. She’s learnt from last time – when was that? 6 months ago? She’s not coming in as close, she’s not weaving back and forth, she’s keeping her eye out and working beautifully. Her stops … well, they need a bit of work, but she was happy enough to call off the sheep and come out with me after her turn, and then DRAGGED me to the water trough. This girl knows what she wants.

And then Mal had a go!!!! 12 year old Mal! Who has a herding title but was never very good because he just wanted to sniff their butts. Omg he was so good! He’s ‘old school’ herding style, before they taught them to kick out and give more space, but he cantered around and around and around and had the best time. THE BEST. He was so stoked. He proved he could hear me before we started, turning when I called him to me but then became conveniently deaf when I tried to stop him once he was working. He was lovely. He didn’t bite them, even if he cut one out to chase it. And he was happy. And so good for 12. I’m so glad I took him with me, I wasn’t going to give him a go but we decided why not?
THEN, Lu got to go out in the big paddock! There were 3 sheep out there and they were flighty as… running like CRAZY when we got in, even with Lu on lead. So we had to walk back and forth trying to calm them (which was actually a good exercise for Lu too – YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO OBSESSIVELY STARE AT THEM)… and when they calmed a bit, we released her and um… sheep everywhere… She had the best time, getting to do these BIG FAST runs to fetch them. And they were being NAUGHTY, and she wasn’t having any of it! She was bumping them with her shoulder, barking at them. Kate (the breeder) was really impressed that she didn’t give up – I think her litter sister had a habit of giving up, but not Lu! Finally we got them to me and they calmed down a bit and Lu worked on doing big circles, and then we put them through the Y-chute which was a new skill, and she did really well for her first time.

So hey… my girl is a herding dog, that’s for sure. She can do agility, whatever, but herding is her thing. So… I have to try and find time to do it with her, cos it was pretty fun today, and she loved it so much. She was a different dog when herding… especially compared to my, “sigh, do I have to? FINE..” agility dog… I wouldn’t say she was necessarily more attentive, as such… but hmm… different. More present. Yes, that’s what I’d say. More present and more purposeful. I liked that. I really want to try her on cattle, too. Apparently her litter sister looooves working cows… I reckon Lu would too, to get all cocky and angry at them, and not back down even when they put pressure on her.

Now to find some free weekends from agility… HA.


So remember a few posts ago I said that Lu no longer had a dogwalk behaviour?
Turns out that if you actually train something consistently,  it gets better. So weird, right?!

It took her a good 5 or so sessions to get her style back & to look confident, but here you go, Lumen’s most recent RC. She’s such a front-foot hitter. Always has been.

There’s no trials between now and August for us (there’s one we could go to in June but until I’m running Loki my heart just isn’t in it) so I’m going to try and get her on some other dogwalks between now and then, too. The next step at home will be giving her different exits keeping the thrown ball, then different exits and including more obstacles before getting the thrown ball. I think as soon as she looses that forward drive is when she gets into trouble with her hits. That being said, this session had a whole spectrum of starting speeds, from a nice straight leadout, a tunnel on the side, a 90-degree turn onto the walk (as Australian judges seem to be loving doing lately) and a turn back from the tunnel under the DW. I put that tunnel there as a challenge for both my guys, but of course Lu loves the DW so much that she would MUCH rather do it than the tunnel (tunnels are dumb in Lumen-world) and Loki hasn’t seemed to notice it at all. Which is PERFECT! And I even test him by sending him in it sometimes.

With him, I’m wanting to split “fast start” sessions with “slow start” sessions. By far he finds medium-speed entries the hardest, followed closely by fast starts. I feel like he’s getting close to working out that stretching just a bit more to that 2nd apex will get him jackpots but he hasn’t done it consistently enough to be rewarded multiple times for it yet… but I figure he’s in about 80-90% now with high hits and some are safer… so if we keep working this way and jackpotting the best hits he’ll figure out the best style for him and hit that way. In the meantime if I work the two different entry speeds separately it won’t confuse his little brain as to which striding he has to do and once he’s confident and consistent in both, I’ll introduce medium-speed back in.

And somehow, at some point, he has to learn how to do soft turns off the dogwalk even with fast entries, because at the moment, his 4-stride attempts are too hard for him to turn with so… we’ll work on that a bit later. There’s still 3 months before he’s competing anyway. Heaps of time!

Oh! One more thing if you’re still reading!

Could you all please go and “like” Loki and my graduation video for RC class. You don’t even have to watch the video, just click “like”. If we win, we get  a free class & Silvia is running foundations in August so I could hassle her some more about dogwalks and then you, dear readers, won’t have to put up with me whining about them here! See, it’s win-win, so help me win!

Click here to vote!!!

rainy days

We’ve had a lovely day – first some agility training with Loki. I’m building up his dogwalk again to try and promote better running style and stretching over the apex. We’re on 600cm again and doing well. It’ll be interesting to see if it helps.

We also ran an O/E course that our friend brought around on Sunday & a bunch of us broke down into pieces and worked on. I got some feedback from my online coach Niki and went and ran it again with both the dogs. I still couldn’t get all the way through with Loki but we did pretty well. He’s still a baby who doesn’t commit as well as Lu.

Lu and I managed to get all the way around perfectly! Despite not feeling a ‘connection’ with her the way I do with Loki, and not necessarily finding her the most fun to run, this course ended up being really good for her – I could keep her in extension the whole time, there were no wraps, she likes pushes to the backside like in this setup, there weren’t too many tunnels… it ended up being quite a Lumen-y course.

Then we headed off for a nice hour-long hike. I’ve been getting a bit brave with Lu since I took her to the park with Penny’s dogs and let her run free, and she kept coming to check back in… Remember she’s been on lead for walks (apart from at the beach) for like, 6 months so I wasn’t really sure if she’d remember how to recall or what…nic & I let her off on a hike the other day with a bear bell on… we saw kangaroos and she was off on their trail, but we could hear where she was which was reassuring. Then when she came back she got a steak. I let her off in the bush again today and she ran off 3 times – once she got so far that I couldn’t hear the bells any more… but she came back. The good thing about the bells as well is that I can hear when she’s coming back so I can be verbally praising her for coming back even though I can’t see her and she’s still a distance off. More steaks and off we went again. My main fear initially when letting her off (because I knew if there were roos, she was going to run after them) was that she wouldn’t have a distance threshold any more after that one broke its leg. I also didn’t want her to corrupt Loki & for him to learn to hunt. So the good news is that she does have a distance threshold and will come back within a reasonable timeframe… and the other good news is that Loki doesn’t go with her. His recall off of chasing with her is AWESOME, and once he’s with me, he stays with me (looking nervously in the direction she went). So that is very cool. It’s lovely to be able to let her off and have all 3 of them tearing through the bush, banking on the trail-bike tracks and running together. It’s the best.

Now it’s raining and everybody is sleeping in front of the fire. School holidays are the best.

ready, set, go

I borrowed Badger today and took him to the beach.

Incase I’ve neglected to mention it on here somewhere, Badger is Loki’s 1/2 brother, to the same mum.

He is very fun and he likes to go very fast. It’s been so interesting to watch the shift in dynamics of our little pack over the last few trips to the beach (this will be the 3rd trip with Badger over the last 2 weeks). For one, Badger usually watches Penny’s other dog Pan. But since Pan isn’t there Badger chooses an equally orange dog to watch, and so spends most of the time trying to make Mal move. This works at first but Mal is 11 so is tired after about 45 minutes and can’t be bothered chasing Badger any more.

Loki usually watches Lumen, body-slams Lumen, tugs on Lumen’s neck, bites Lumen’s tail, chases Lumen, is chased by Lumen, wrestles Lumen, pounces Lumen… you get the idea. But Lumen is actually quite boring at the beach. She just trots along and does her own thing and rolls in dead fish. Boring. The other day at the beach Loki had been trying to get Lu to play with no luck. Then he noticed that Badger would run away very fast every so often as part of his imaginary game with Mal. You could literally see the little cogs turn in Loki’s head. Wait on… that… that sort of looks like fun… like, maybe more fun than relentlessly annoying Lumen! And from then, it’s been many long sprints up and down the beach between the brothers. Badger… isn’t that happy about having his little dweeby tag-along brother, particularly as Loki occasionally forgets he’s not and Aussie and tries to Aussie Shepherd shoulder bump him, and gets in his way, and tries to make him play, when all Badger wants to do is watch Mal, but at least he does a whole lot more running and a whole lot less body slamming on the beach now (which MUST be better for his poor little bones).

But today I tested something. I remembered on one of Silvia’s DVDs (or possibly more than one) she says that a way to get them fit and get them to practise sprinting, is to play the ready, set, go, crazy BC game. Which I was like: uh, that doesn’t happen. Clearly just Silvia’s dogs. No normal dog would just run away for no reason.

But… yep. Apparently BCs do.

….oh. And 11 year old Aussies, too. Poor Mal. 15kg of full speed BC coming at you is no fun.

Note Lumen trotting in the back going “what? why???”. It’s funny, she’s so mellow on the beach.

This was probably already 45 minutes or so into the walk so they were pretty tired. 😉

2014: the year in review

Well, it’s been quite the year. Plenty of ups, plenty of downs.

We started the year with a beautiful camp-out on the beach, and soon after I was already wondering whether I should breed Lu or not,  whether I should get another dog or not, and that my handling needed improvement (themes that have carried on throughout the year it seems!). A week and a half into January saw Lu vomit up blood and get rushed to the vet where she ended up having her abdomen opened up to find ulcers and blood in her stomach. We brought home a very sad and sick pup a few days later.

She looks so little here…! She must have dropped all her coat recently or something…

Her recovery went well though she started getting cabin fever after a while. At one point I took her to visit a trial and wrote this:

I think – THINK – I’ll be able to trust her not to run off on me when we start competing – it’ll just be the very end of a run that’ll be risky

Isn’t it funny, this hasn’t been an issue for us at all? As soon as she’s in the ring, she’s with me. As soon as we finish the run she jumps all over me and is super happy. Only once did she leave the ring without me and it was so she could go get her toy!

And then at the end of January I posted this:

I really do wonder if I should just suck it up and get a border collie because maybe everything I want is a border collie? That intensity, speed, drive, absolute desire to work and please and work some more, and to play and that sharpness of motion in agility…

not knowing that my little Loki had been born only 12 days before!

In February, I nearly got a little Aussie puppy called Tink, but obviously that wasn’t meant to be. I started weaving with Lu in the back-yard as part of her rehab, and began slowly building up her fitness.

I feel like this year was really a huge year of self discovery. I began to look into why I think the way I do, why I stress over plans and possibilities, why I can’t function well when there’s too many options and none of them are a clear winner. It’s funny because reading back through agonising over Tink, a lot of my problems came from a head vs. heart debate, and that I hadn’t had a ‘heart’ moment. I don’t think I had one with Loki either as such (I didn’t even meet him until I picked him up and even then I wasn’t 100% sure it was the right thing), but I saw his picture and his description and thought he sounded great, talked to the breeder and he still sounded great and in the end, threw myself in, come what may. So maybe that’s as close to a ‘heart’ decision as I’ll get!

At the beginning of March I posted that I “might” be getting this puppy, by which I meant I was getting that puppy. I did a poll to get your ideas on names and by all accounts he should be called “Nero” or “Oreo”, and Loki wasn’t even an option. “Bustle” with “Buzz” for short still strikes me as cute, especially if the registered name was Hustle Bustle, but it’s probably a bit late for that now!

Remember this fluffy little guy??

And then of course, all my time was spent doing puppy things and continuing to try and get Lu ready for competitions. We were socialising and clicker-training and adventuring and getting Loki out in the world.  By the end of March, we’d signed the contracts for our house and Lu ran in a fun day where I got my first taste of the fact that she would love competitions much more than training!

In April Nic and I went to Sydney for the OMD seminar and I learnt a lot. I still haven’t done everything I set out to do but I do think I’ve become more conscious of my handling, of where my dog’s line is going to be and how I show them the line early enough to prepare them for the job they need to do. I think it’s made me more conscious of what I’m planning to do and what I’m doing and what that says to the dog. I also changed my mindset from “the dog did the wrong thing” to “the dog never/rarely does the wrong thing (on purpose)”, and that all/most errors are either a fault of my handling or of my training. For Loki, who loves rewards, this has been gold, as he always gets something (even a small thing) just for trying. Lu doesn’t care about the rewards so much but it’s taken the pressure off her to be right, and all her efforts are rewarded too. It’s been really interesting to walk courses toward the end of the year with this idea of showing the dog its next obstacle before it gets there. Sometimes I’ll be agonising over a jump with a turn, and a fellow competitor will chime in and ask if I have a (verbal) turning cue. To which I’ll reply, well yes, but I’d rather show her that she’ll be turning before she’s at the jump… to which they often look at me as if I’m daft.

We spent a lot of time this year getting an awesome dogwalk behaviour and then losing it for some reason… getting it back, losing it, getting it back, losing it. It seems like every time she got confident and fast on it, one of us would be injured, or we wouldn’t have anywhere to train, or something would happen that prevented us from training. Hopefully those days are over now – at least the days of loosing our training area are, so I’m hoping that having built the height back up again now is the last time we’ll have to do that.

Lu entered her first jumping comp and won one of her rings:

We were working through Polona’s Let’s Play! Class as well, so I was documenting how those processes were going, and I must say that Polona’s class has been one of the huge highlights of this year. The difference in Lumen since playing her games has been phenomenal. She is now pushy for food. and I have a good pre-run routine to help her be in the best frame of mind. She enjoys her toys way more than ever before. I’ve learnt so much about her and about how to train her so I can keep her interested that suddenly training is so much more fun. I’m still working on how to incorporate things like needing to proof multiple weave entries while keeping it fun and exciting, but maybe I just need to work this into a ‘typical’ fast and furious sequence run, or go back to doing the crazy balls game. I love that I have a bunch of new tools and games to play that work so, so much better than other games we’ve tried by other trainers. And, having been in her graduates class for much of the year has also meant I’ve had a fantastic sounding board for any and all problems or concerns that have come up with either of my dogs. This has helped with some of my obsessive agility-related anxiety things so much, I think.

In May, Lu was ready to compete- she had an A-frame, weaves and dogwalk behaviour that I was happy with and then… I strained my calf muscle, meaning no running for me for 2-3 weeks.

In June & July we had a few awesome snow-ventures.

Training started to look more like agility with Loki with doing cik/tok around bollards and starting to do curved tunnels and tunnel games. With Lu, I had begun working on soft turns off the dogwalk with varied levels of success. My calf was still injured but like a moron I was still training and going on morning hikes. I started doing recallers games with Lumen during June and I need to get back into this. We’ve fallen out of the habit of practising lots of recalls because I don’t tend to take them out unless she’s on lead, so she doesn’t get recalls there, and I don’t recall her in the backyard very often so… we just have been slack with this one. And I liked the changes I saw in her while we were playing the games so I need to refresh my memory, make a list of games we can play while out on a walk.

Loki kept on being cute and I fell more and more in love with him. He was, and still is, the easiest dog. He just loves to please and learns ‘good’ from ‘bad’ so quickly. He has so few ‘issues’ that having him seems like a dream. He’s a much easier dog to live with than Lu and I’ve only ever had one off-lead ‘incident’ where he spotted a wombat and took off, but has awesome recalls off everything else. He settles down easier and actually wants to be near you. He loves routines – you open the front door and he often runs to the gate of the agility paddock, and I break his little heart every time I say, “not now, mate”. Loki comes to school with me often and I unclip his lead while he walks with me on yard duty- usually carrying a stick that I throw into his mouth. I trust him so completely – like I used to trust Mal – and he doesn’t let me down. I want to use him next year to sit with kids when they need comforting, or as a reading buddy. That was my goal with Lu, too, but she can’t sit still or settle well enough. Loki – if I tie him up and there’s a bed nearby, will usually make himself comfortable and just keep an eye on me. He’s amazing.

August was a celebration of Mallei, even though I didn’t quite get to 30 days, Lumen got spayed and was then diagnosed with a sore illiopsoas, taking  us out of agility again. After being desexed, I saw Lu become happier and more focused, and we were still working through recallers and other focus games.

Loki was growing up!

At the end of August/beginning of September, we FINALLY moved into our property…

Lu turned 2, and was still going through rehab and beginning to build up her fitness, AGAIN. I started preparing for the Shape Up Dogs in October. I began Loki’s running contact training, and like everything else, he picked this up as if he’d been doing it for forever. For the last few months of the year however, I struggled to find out how to help him put this puzzle together. Although he understood “run very fast along the thing” at first, this all fell apart as the height went up and he became uncertain and was leaping off. We tried a few different things, and I don’t think they were detrimental at all, but in the end I decided it would be best to go back to a lower height and really focus on him having comfortable, natural running, starting from good starting spots for good hits (though I found that the placement of his hits changes every rep so having a good starting spot doesn’t seem to do much for him) and then gradually build up the height again. Seems like we’re finally getting this together now!

It has been such an interesting year. A huge year of learning – about myself, about dogs and dog training. A year of getting to know and love Loki, of learning to accept and grow with Lumen. It’s been a year of frustration, stress and tears at times, and laughter and joy at others. It’s seen us move house again, and being able to finally breathe a sigh of relief, walk outside and train whenever and however I want.

I can’t wait for next year – to begin to trial Lumen more and grow my handling skills with her. I’m looking forward to showing her more and more that agility is fun and that it’s ok to run fast! To debut Loki when he’s ready and to see what he’s really capable of. To do herding with Lumen and see where that takes us because she asks me to be allowed to herd – when we go there, she sees the sheep and she begins heeling, sitting up close at me side, on her best behaviour. She loves herding. Next year I’m teaching a new year level and, if allowed, have ideas of how to improve the wellbeing of my students by using Loki. I’m hoping that Mallei, as he enters his 11th year, continues to be as fit, happy and healthy as he is, constantly fooling people with his age. I’m looking forward to teaching agility to people and watching them begin to compete when they’re ready.

a lazy weekend

I realised that I haven’t updated here for a little while, which I suppose is a good thing because it means that life is chugging along without too many major dramas.

Well… it hasn’t been that long, but it feels like a long time.

I’ve been very good this weekend – I decided that both Lu and Loki would have an agility-free weekend. I actually find it much easier to take days off on weekends than on weekdays. Maybe because so much else happens on weekends – long walks, work around the place, visiting people, etc, that it’s easy to not use agility as a convenient way to work out Loki mentally and physically.

Saturday was almost a complete rest day for him, as in he did very little and basically slept all day. He’s a great little sleeper. Lumen went herding with me in the morning. I find herding really fascinating and really difficult. I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing or what I’m looking for, and how to refine the behaviours I want. I know some things (like we’re working on Lu giving the sheep more space and turning her eye out, I can see her eye turn out so I reward her by removing pressure and allowing her to work the sheep) but there’s a whole lot of mechanical stuff on my behalf that I just don’t get. Lumen does love it though. She loves it so much. In one video I have from the training, I’m asking her for a stop and a sit, and her tail is wagging so fast, I’ve never seen it wag like that before. She’s very very good, and once a sheep got brave and stared her down so she barked at it and got all brave back. It was really cool to watch. I told her she was good and then she got all silly and kept pushing the sheep up into my space so she got to come around front and turn their heads again – I let her know that that probably wasn’t ok.

So you know, my last post was on giving in on agility with Lu. In a way that’s sort of the plan. In a way. I think what I’d like would be to have a herding (and maybe one day tracking) focus with Lu, and agility on the side, and have an agility focus with Loki with herding on the side. Maybe Lu will get into Masters and do well because she won’t be blitzing the course so can pick up places where other faster dogs bomb out, but maybe not. And that’s ok – I have my agility dog, I have Loki. If Lu doesn’t want to love agility, that’s actually ok. I’ll focus on it with her for now until Loki is old enough and then y’know, if she doesn’t do every competition, or doesn’t do every run, then that’s ok too. And she can do herding.

I had a thought the other day on my two dogs – my do everything fast dog, and my take your time to think dog. And I wondered if it came down to genetic herding style. Think about your typical Aussie ranch dog – they’re working all day in the heat, trotting, working the stock, trotting along with the horses, etc. They need to conserve their energy and go steady. And I think Lu is like this – I’ve decided that she does enjoy her rewards, she actually seems to enjoy agility most of the time, she just doesn’t feel the need to go full speed. Full speed is hard, and doesn’t give you enough time to think and Lu loves thinking.

Border collies on the other hand do those massive, fast outruns. They get the sheep and then zip back and forth to bring them to the shepherd. Then, I assume, they lie down and watch the sheep, taking off very fast when needed before coming to rest again. A border collie strikes me more as a very-fast-on-and-off dog, and this is really typical of Loki – everything has to be done full speed, but as soon as he has his toy or reward he lies down with it to chew on it and play with it, ready to go again when it’s go time.

Polona thinks that you could train Lu to understand that in order to get her reward she needs to run fast, and I’ve seen a huge improvement in her speed over the last month or so as we’ve been doing really easy stuff, but is she ever going to throw 110% of herself into the job? I doubt it. And again, that’s ok – I’m actually not sad about this any more.

The last session of Loki’s dogwalk showed a great improvement after Polona suggested lowering one end of the dogwalk as he was making a big deal of the 2nd apex and it meant that he couldn’t hit. Since I made the apex less of an apex he was able to just run over it as normal and this meant heaps more hits than we had been getting. Still not perfect but better than what we had. I do think I rushed him along in the heights, in a way, but at the end of the day if he’s running full speed along the plank then that’s what we’re after – just possibly if I’d kept the height lower for longer maybe he wouldn’t have been getting weirded out by the apex… but then again, maybe he would have. So, we’ll keep going like this for a little while and see what happens. Who knows, next session could be a complete disaster.

So there you have it. Loki continues to be the best dog in the universe because he’s just amazing in so many ways, Lumen needs to practise her recall because she’s forgotten how to do it because she’s always on lead, and Mal is feeling old even though he’s only 11 which isn’t really old, old, so I’m trying to not call him old even though he acts old (but he isn’t ancient old).

Shape Up – musings, reflections, thoughts.

So we’re back from the weekend of learning stuff.

I sort of… don’t know how I feel about how it all went. Maybe I need to make some lists. Lists are good.

  • Lumen was great. Mostly. The first morning she was awful – she was so slow and disinterested I thought it was going to be a complete waste of my time. By the afternoon she’d perked right up and was running a bit slower than ‘at home’ speed. The next 2 days sort of fluctuated unpredictably between her being “on” and her being slow. By the afternoons she’d perk up and then crash, and there didn’t seem to be any consistency in when she would be happy or not based on what I did or didn’t do before a run, whether she had more or less time out of the crate.
  • I actually found a reward/toy that she really seemed to like – it’s a lotus ball that I put a piece of cooked sausage or something in, and she could tug it to open it up and eat the food. I want to focus at home with her on just playing with that ball, away from agility, to make it super awesome funtimes.
  • I really liked refining my handling and getting to play with cool moves like threadle-rears, German turns, reverse spins, etc. I was really enjoying those twisty courses and think it would be even more fun with a Loki.
  • It was cool to see what Lu could do even when I didn’t know she could do it cos we haven’t really trained it, at all. Like finding the hidden end of a tunnel, or calling past a bunch of tunnels without me really having to call her, she just didn’t worry about them. Which is Lu, I guess.
  • I learnt very quickly that the best thing to do for Lu was anything that would keep her in motion – for that reason we really, really like German Turns. 😉
  • There were no dogwalks, and because she hadn’t been weaving, they were ok for her to not weave, and there were 2 other 500-height dogs jumping at 300mm so I jumped Lu on 300mm too.

Ok… and then..

  • I have trouble in my brain finding the seminar valuable because although it was really fun to do 100 backsides and threadles and discriminations, I know that we’re never going to see courses like that here. Maybe not “never”, but not now anyway. We were thinking that maybe someone should bring UKI down here. Maybe I can do that. Y’know, with all the spare time I have. In the meantime we have these huge open big courses with stupid discriminations that you can’t handle cos you can’t get there… So it’s really nice that Lu can do a threadle-rear now but am I going to use it? Uh, not sure.
  • I felt a big conflict, in a way, between what I’d learnt during the OMD seminar and this one. In a way. Some of it was fine, like finding your dog’s line but there was certainly less emphasis on supporting, showing, and guiding that line. And more on “do this handling option here because we want you to” (which was us learning handling moves, that’s fine) or “Do this move here because it’s faster” rather than “How can I best show my dog where it’s going next ahead of time?” which is how I want to think. So I suppose in a way I need to take it all as more of a ‘training exercise’ rather than learning how to cue and decide the moves based on how it will best support showing my dog the line. I think there was some of this sort of discussion (As in, “Well, you COULD do this move on that bar, but then your dog would come all the way out here and it would be slower), but I felt also that they were ok with, say, running their dogs at a tunnel and using their ‘flappy tappy’ to stop them going in it and go over a jump instead, rather than giving the dogs confidence and speed by not letting their noses point at that tunnel (if possible) by doing some other move to help them. And I think for Lu, that confidence that yes, THAT is the way I want you to go, there are no questions, is something she needs. And I guess the more you trained ‘flappy tappy’ the less they’d have that question in their mind but I just… I don’t know – it didn’t sit so well with me to run at a tunnel (basically) but actually want them to come and do a jump next to it.

So… plenty to think about, but maybe not as much as the OMD seminar. I don’t want to compare the two, I know they’re different and maybe the focus was different, but I took pages and pages and pages of notes for OMD, and for this one, I drew 2 little diagrams of some setups I want to make at home.

I think now it’s time to sign up for OMD premium membership to start working through some of their exercises, turns and courses with Loki (and Lu), and building his Foundation skills using their method (and Shape Up as well, it can’t hurt to have more tools than less)… it’s time to keep working on their dogwalks (and we had a great session with Loki yesterday with a couple of leaps to differentiate between leaping and JPing), to work on proofing Lumen’s weaves and her entries. I’m thinking that maybe instead of teaching Lu the hard turns Silvia’s way, I might teach her a sort of 2o2o kind of thing which I read on Polona’s blog, as maybe that will be clearer for her – a STOP vs. a sort of run slower and turn type thing. And if I get a stop and a flick away then that will take care of those turns and she won’t have to question if it’s a collected stride & turn vs a run, it’ll either be RUN RUN or STOP in position. I think maybe that will be better.

… Maybe.

swimming & running

Finally got around to taking the dogs to the dog pool 20 minutes down the road today. Even threw Mal in the car (not literally) as I thought they might be able to squeeze him in for the first intro session too. Which they did. All 3 dogs got a little swim, all 3 wearing a life-jacket (Lumen’s face at first was priceless. She was going to DIE). All 3 had their own little agendas when swimming.

Loki: swim VERY FAST to get all the places and maybe try and escape on the corners. Overtake Lumen, and once overtaken, keep trying to look back to make sure she’s still coming. Basically water herding.

Lumen: Very cruisy. “Yeah yeah, I’m swimming, no big deal. I’ll pace myself incase we’re at this for a while”. Just set an easy pace for herself and got down to the business of swimming. Didn’t bother trying to escape.

Mal: PANIC FACE. The assistant guy said he wasn’t panicked at all and some dogs will roll around and splash madly, but I could tell. Tried to escape at every corner. Very determined swimmer because maybe he was going to be left to die in there.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to taking them once or twice a week and fully beefing them up.

Beef-cake dogs.


Raised the plank the other day and Loki lost his ability to run and discovered how to leap. Have been considering myself very lucky that we’ve had basically no leaps so far. The DW is now on 800mm and if you’ve stuck around the blog for a while you may or may not recall that 800mm with Lumen nearly killed us. I think it took 6 sessions of nothing but leaping before she started to improve. Today I found a most excellent starting spot with Loki at the apex of the down plank and we just ran that a bunch of times. He’ll be right – I’m not worried. Having gone through the process with Lu now I feel like no bad session is indicative of everything being lost. But isn’t it interesting how both my dogs (and Mal too, I think), haven’t coped with 800mm!?

Remember this, or this, or this?

Lu had a great attitude today. We did some multi-wraps and single-jump sends with the bar on 300mm, trying to improve her capacity to turn. What do you think I should do at this seminar? Should I run her on lowered bars as I’m working on her turning? Run her on 500mm since that’s her competition height and she needs to learn to threadle and stuff on that height? I’m not sure, I think lower would be better. After the multi-wraps and stuff we played a game of ‘crazy balls’ where she had to come do a wrap, then go get the next ball… come do a wrap, then the next ball, etc. If she was too wide, I’d ask her to redo the wrap which usually I wouldn’t do because of her motivation but she really loves the crazy-ball game and I think actually makes a really clear point: “We can’t go on with the game until you do that better”. So crazy balls seems to be the way to go for everything – Polona called it our secret weapon. So we’re doing DW crazy-balls, wrap crazy balls and weave crazy balls.

I think Lu is starting to get back to her old self. She’d put on weight and was chubby after desexing and rehab but as of this last week or so, her figure is looking so much better, you can feel her ribs again, and I can see a big change in how much she wants to run or play. Amazing the difference a bit of weight can make. The scales said she’s 19kg which is still about 500g-1kg heavier than I’d like her to be and I don’t think she’s THAT muscly! So there’s still some weight to get off but I’m glad she’s looking and feeling better.

land cruiser vs. mazda mx5

Yesterday I was doing some RC training with Loki and we had leaps for the first time. I don’t know what was going on, he wasn’t driving for the tunnel or he was leaping. I may have thrown him by starting him from a wrap but the wing he was wrapping was literally about 50cm from the beginning of the dog walk. Hopefully it’s just confidence and he’ll be back to normal in a session or 2, since we’ve only been doing static, close, slow starts, this just might have worried him a bit. Not sure. I’m hoping to raise the plank in the next couple of sessions since Lu seems to be getting her groove back and Loki WAS doing really, really well… I’ve managed to slim Lumen down a LOT in the last 2 weeks and she now has her beautiful trim, shapely figure back. I’ll be curious to weigh her. We’ve also begun trail running together with her on a belt pulling me along so that has to be fantastic for her muscles and cardio.


Anyway, after Loki and I did the terrible RC session I let him hang out while I set up this sequence I found on agilitynerd.com. I was only going to run it with Lu, and only run it once as an “All in” session since I’d like to start alternating between ‘skill building’ sessions which will be more technical and probably less exciting for her, and ‘all in’ sequence running sessions, which will hopefully mimic a trial more, with no mistakes, or, if there are any, they don’t matter and we just continue on. As I was setting up, Loki was hanging around and I decided I’d use him as my guineapig and memorise the course and get the handling perfect with him before bringing Lu out. He’s much more forgiving than her and doesn’t mind that repetition as long as he gets his rewards (and he does, every time I stuffed up, he’d get his reward!).

I filmed both as you can see below. I don’t have Lu’s bars on full height because I’m trying to rebuild her ability to turn and wrap and she can’t do it very well yet – as I found out. Although she’s moving pretty well here I still know it’s not as fast as she can go, and so to me it feels like with her I’m driving this big clunky bus or SUV, and with Loki, he’s like a little sportscar. He whips around the corners and charges down the straights and if you get in the way, look out!

It was actually really fun walking this course and thinking really hard about my handling options and how I would show him where I wanted him going ahead of time. In the end I would have done 11-12 as a front cross instead of blind like I did, and I probably would have made 10 more of a wrap so he didn’t crash on his face. It’s certainly not perfect but it’s really the first time I’ve done a sequence that hasn’t had the ‘instructions’ like the sequences in Silvia’s foundations class, and that have a number of different handling options that I could have tried. You’re only getting the finished product here, not all the stuff-ups with Loki before this attempt. And Lu – I ended up doing it twice with her but both were pretty similar in terms of what went wrong. Of course the 2nd half of the course after we repeated the tunnel was a bit of a write-off because I was out of position so was turning too late and trying to remember where I was going.

The map

The map




There’s a bunch of these little courses so I’m looking forward to trying some more.

Shape up Dogs seminar is this weekend, so I’ll try and squeeze in a few more weave sessions, a few more RC sessions (even though it’s low), and a few more backside & threadle sessions. Oh, and wraps. Gotta keep working on the wraps. Plenty to do.

sunset photos

There was a beautiful golden light the other evening so I took some photos of the dogs but of course then they come out all yellow and weird so don’t look as pretty as in real life… except Mal, he is the most beautiful sunset dog ever. The sunsetty yellow just makes him all golden.